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The Ragpicker, c. 1865-1870

Édouard Manet

French, 1832-1883
Oil on canvas
76-3/4 x 51-1/2 in. (194.9 x 130.8 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1968.09.P
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

During the 1860s, Manet undertook a series of pictures portraying street characters from the neighborhood of vacant lots and construction sites that surrounded his studio. Perhaps the masterpiece of the series, the Ragpicker (or Chiffonnier) represents the nineteenth-century equivalent of today’s homeless man pushing a shopping cart full of tin cans. With a stick in hand and a sack slung over his shoulder, the chiffonnier salvages rags from the garbage for sale to paper manufacturers. Ragpickers were a source of fascination—and sometimes fear—in nineteenth-century Paris: emblems of the modern city and those it had left behind.

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